Wealth & Responsibility
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Issue Date:  August 11, 2006

Leveling the playing field

Who benefits from the money tied to housing and health care?

Nearly one-third of the nation’s wealth is tied directly to health care and housing. Reason enough to consider the topics as part of NCR’s special supplement on “Wealth and Responsibility.”

At $100 billion annually, the mortgage interest deduction is the federal government’s largest housing subsidy program. By contrast, the entire budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is less than $40 billion. Who’s being left behind in the go-go real estate market and can anything be done to level the playing field? The report on examines these questions. ( See story)

The $66 billion 600-hospital Catholic health care system is at a crossroads. As their founding congregations (largely women religious) increasingly transition oversight to lay-run boards (NCR, Dec. 23, 2005), issues of identity and mission abound. Among the questions: justice for their 700,000-plus employees. Tom Schindler, an ethicist who died tragically last spring, offers both a critique of past practices and some hope for the future. ( See story)

Can American business play a role in creating a more just society? They must, argues Jesuit Fr. William Byron in his latest book The Power of Principles ( see excerpt). The challenges are formidable: “Anyone who takes a moment to reflect on the fact that approximately 45 million Americans participate in no health insurance program today will be forgiven for expressing outrage at this obvious assault on the principle of the common good,” writes Byron.

Finally, Karen O’Brien ( see story) and George J. Bryjak ( see story) consider personal responsibility and wealth. It’s not only Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet who can be philanthropists.

-- Joe Feuerherd

National Catholic Reporter, August 11, 2006

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